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Summer holiday activities for the kids

ballet1Why don’t you stop the summer turning into one long drag by keeping the kids busy with these ideas and activities?

Trying to keep children entertained can be a tough task during the summer when they’re not at school. Rather than plonking them in front of the television or at the computer, it’s far better to get them joining clubs and classes that you think may appeal to them. Not only are they less likely to whinge about being bored, but they’ll also learn new skills – whether physical, practical or mental – and make new friends, too. Here are some of the opportunities available to children of all ages and skill levels…

Performing arts
For kids who like to turn their hand to singing, drama and acting, a performing arts group is the perfect place
to unleash their inner star.

Price: £15 to £20 per session.

Equipment: None – schools will usually provide relevant costumes or outfits although you may need to buy some leisure gear, such as trainers, sportswear and leotards.

What it’s good for: Performing arts classes aren’t just for children who are outgoing and expressive; they’re excellent for boosting every child’s confidence. Even if your child seems a bit shy or suffers from stage fright, such groups will give her good opportunities to overcome inhibitions and improve the way she speaks and presents herself. The classes are very good for social interaction and will allow your child to make friends. Most sessions include workshops where students participate and engage in activities together. Acting or drama classes are perfect for allowing your child to become more expressive and boost both her concentration and her memory.

Suitable for: There are schools that cater for different age ranges – from children as young as four years old up to 18.

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Does your child love the sparkle and glamour of TV show Strictly Come Dancing? If you’ve a young Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers bursting to step on to the dance floor, there are a wide variety of dance classes that may appeal. And it’s not just Ballroom and Latin – from ballet to tap, jazz to modern, you needn’t go far to find the right style. Billy Elliott, Darcey Bussell? Watch out!

Price: £5 per class.

Equipment: Specialist footwear and appropriate clothing for the style of dance.

What it’s good for: Dance is a brilliant form of exercise – your child will gain in fitness, strength, and posture. It is an excellent way to boost your child’s confidence and expressiveness and a way to make friends.

Suitable for: All children, from the age of three up to 18.

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Kids love to be creative and no more so than when it comes to food. Cookery classes are perfect for entertaining and teaching children a range of skills at the same time – and, in time, you may even find your dinner is cooked for you, every so often!

Price: Around £15 per session.

Equipment: Most cookery classes provide all the ingredients you need, but it’s worth buying your child an apron of her own. Invest in a few basics for your child to practise with in the kitchen at home – there are lots of fun cookery utensils available that make the pastime more appealing. An ice-cream maker might be a good summer investment!

What it’s good for: Cookery is a creative, fun way to meet people. From little cakes to more elaborate dishes, your child will learn how to make delicious dishes that the whole family can appreciate. These classes are also a fabulous way of getting fussy eaters to experiment with different ingredients and to learn more about the value of nutritional, fresh produce, as opposed to processed foods. Cookery involves weighing and measuring various items, so it will help to improve your child’s numeracy as well as teach her the importance of following a particular sequence. Food hygiene and health and safety in the kitchen will also be taught and all that chopping, folding and whisking action will help to fine-tune her motor skills.

Suitable for: All kids, from four to 18, can engage in a spot of cookery.

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Not all clubs need to be physically challenging – it’s a good idea to exercise the minds of your kids, too, with
the mental challenges a game such as chess brings.

Price: £5 per session.

Equipment: Many chess clubs will provide chess boards, but it’s still worth investing in a decent board of your own
so that your child can practise at home.

What it’s good for: Chess is great for helping children to concentrate, think in a logical manner and work out how to overcome obstacles. It also helps young ones to learn how to recognise complex patterns, visualise future possibilities and it teaches them patience.

Suitable for: Children aged eight upwards.

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With Wimbledon, the tennis highlight of the year, well under way, what better way to get your children inspired by the sport, and enjoying the outdoors, than by playing it? You never know, you might have the next Andy Murray or Kim Clijsters in your midst…

Price: Around £5 for a lesson.

Equipment: A tennis racket, tennis balls, tennis shoes and sportswear.

What it’s good for: Tennis is an excellent form of exercise and it teaches children about competing in an individual sport. The game will improve your child’s all-round fitness levels, physical coordination and teach mental discipline. On top of all that, the sport provides plenty of opportunities for social interaction and, if children engage in doubles matches, tennis can also encourage teamwork.

Suitable for: All children, from those aged four to 18.

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Children are better than adults at picking up languages, so why not equip yours with a skill that could be really useful in the future?

Price: £7 per session.

Equipment: None.

What it’s good for: Having an additional language is a bonus for any child. Not only will the ability to speak something other than English enhance your child’s career prospects, it will also give her confidence and enhance all-round communication skills. Learning a second language is a great way to exercise your child’s brain since it involves the understanding of new words, their pronunciations and the meanings that they convey. Languages will also encourage your child to understand cultural diversity. And next time you go on a family holiday abroad, your child may be able to say more than the usual hello, goodbye and thank you!

Suitable for: Children of nursery age to teenagers.

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What child doesn’t enjoy drawing, painting and making beautiful, colourful works of art?

Price: £5 to £15 per session.

Equipment: Most clubs will provide all the materials you need, but your child may be required to take her own apron.

What it’s good for: Art classes let their creative juices flow and build confidence, as they teach kids how to create things that others can appreciate. The sessions will help your child to focus on detail and expression, as well as helping her  to develop fine motor skills. Most classes let children use a wide range of paints, textiles and clay. Clubs have more materials available than you do at home, and more time to spend on different techniques than a school lesson.

Suitable for: All children, from toddlers to those in their late teens.

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This article was first published in at home’s ’Parenting with Jo Frost’ July 2011. [Read the digital edition here]

Images: Getty

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